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Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner 1960 still.jpg
Reiner in 1960
Born (1922-03-20) March 20, 1922 (age 98)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
MediumStand-up, film, television, theatre
EducationGeorgetown University
Years active1947–present
GenresObservational comedy, black comedy, deadpan, surreal humor, sketch comedy, satire
Subject(s)American culture, human interaction, pop culture, current events, self-deprecation
Estelle Lebost
(m. 1943; died 2008)
Parent(s)Irving Reiner
Bessie Reiner

Carl Reiner (Yiddish: שאַרל רעינער‎; born March 20, 1922)[1][2] is an American comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, and publisher whose career spans seven decades. During the early years of television comedy from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar. In the 1960s, Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show.[3][4]

Reiner famously formed a comedy duo with Mel Brooks in "2000 Year Old Man" and acted in films such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World (1963), The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and the Ocean's film series (2001–2007). He also had great success as a film director and writer and in the 1970s and 1980s. He co-wrote and directed some of Steve Martin's most successful films, including The Jerk (1979). He also directed notable comedies such as Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and All of Me (1984). Over his long and distinguished career, Reiner has won many awards and honors including, nine Emmy Awards[5], one Grammy Award, and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He is the father of actor and director Rob Reiner, author Annie Reiner, and artist Lucas Reiner, and the grandfather of Tracy Reiner.

Early life

Reiner was born in The Bronx, New York, on March 20, 1922, to Irving, a watchmaker, and Bessie (née Mathias) Reiner.[6] His parents were Jewish immigrants; his father was from Austria and his mother was from Romania.[7] His older brother Charlie served in the 9th Division in World War II and his ashes are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[8] At age 16, Charlie read in the New York Daily News about a free dramatic workshop being put on by the Works Progress Administration and told Carl about it (he would later credit Charlie with having changed his career plans).[9] His uncle Harry Mathias was the first entertainer in his family;[10] he had previously been working as a machinist, repairing sewing machines.

Military service

In 1943, Reiner was drafted into the Army Air Forces and served during World War II, eventually achieving the rank of corporal. He had initially trained to be a radio operator, but after spending three months in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, he was sent to Georgetown University for ten months of training as a French interpreter; it was here that he had his first experience as a director, putting on a Molière play entirely in French. In 1944, after completing language training, he was sent to Hawaii to work as a teleprinter operator. The night before he was scheduled to ship out for an unknown assignment, he attended a production of Hamlet by the Special Services entertainment unit. Following an audition for actor and Major Maurice Evans, he was subsequently transferred to Special Services. Over the following two years, Reiner performed around the Pacific theater, entertaining troops in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima until he was honorably discharged in 1946.[11]


Reiner performed in several Broadway musicals (including Inside U.S.A. and Alive and Kicking) and had the lead role in Call Me Mister. In 1950, he was cast by Max Leibman in Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, appearing on air in skits while also working alongside writers, such as Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. Reiner also worked on Caesar's Hour with Brooks, Simon, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin, Mike Stewart, Aaron Ruben, Sheldon Keller, and Gary Belkin.

Starting in 1960, Reiner teamed with Brooks as a comedy duo on The Steve Allen Show. Their performances on television and stage included Reiner playing the straight man in 2000 Year Old Man. Eventually, the routine expanded into a series of 5 comedy albums and a 1975 animated television special, with the last album in the series winning a Grammy Award for Spoken Comedy Album.[12][13] The act gave Brooks "an identity as a comic performer for the first time," said Reiner.[14] Brooks's biographer, William Holtzman, called their 12-minute act "an ingenious jazz improvisation ...",[14] while Gerald Nachman described Reiner's part in guiding the act:

The routine relies totally on the team's mental agility and chemistry. It's almost heresy to imagine Brooks performing it with any other straight man. Reiner was a solid straight man to Caesar, but with Brooks he is the second-banana supreme...guiding his partner's churning comic mind.[14][15]

Reiner with Goldie Hawn on the set of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on January 16, 1970
Reiner with Goldie Hawn on the set of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on January 16, 1970

In 1959, Reiner developed a television pilot titled Head of the Family, based on his own personal and professional life. However, the network did not like Reiner in the lead role for unknown reasons. In 1961, it was recast and re-titled The Dick Van Dyke Show and became an iconic series, making stars of his lead actors Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. In addition to writing many of the episodes, Reiner occasionally appeared as temperamental show host Alan Brady. The series ran from 1961 to 1966. In 1966, Reiner co-starred in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.

On The Dick Van Dyke Show, he began his directing career. After the series ended its run, his first film feature was an adaptation of Joseph Stein's play Enter Laughing (1967), which, in turn, was based on Reiner's semi-autobiographical 1958 novel of the same name. Balancing directing, producing, writing, and acting, Reiner has worked on a wide range of films and television programs. Films from his early directing career include Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and The Jerk (1979).

In one of his memoirs, he writes, "Of all the films I have directed, only Where's Poppa? is universally acknowledged as a cult classic. A cult classic, as you may know, is a film that was seen by a small minority of the world's film goers, who insist it is one of the greatest, most daring, and innovative moving pictures ever made. Whenever two or more cult members meet, they will quote dialogue from the classic and agree that 'the film was ahead of its time.' To be designated a genuine cult classic, it is of primary importance that the film fail to earn back the cost of making, marketing, and distributing it. Where’s Poppa? was made in 1969 for a little over $1 million. According to the last distribution statements I saw, it will not break even until it earns another $650,000."[16]

Reiner had a large role in the early career of Steve Martin, by directing and co-writing four films for the comedian: The Jerk in 1979, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid in 1982, The Man with Two Brains in 1983, and All of Me in 1984. Reiner also appeared in both The Jerk, playing a version of himself, and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Reiner with Dick Van Dyke in 2000
Reiner with Dick Van Dyke in 2000

In 1989, he directed Bert Rigby, You're a Fool. In 1990, he narrated the Grimm children's story "The Musicians of Bremen" (music by Bernard Rogers) for a CD of classical music for children.

In 2000, Reiner was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center, where he was honored by fellow friends and comedians, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, and Joy Behar.

A year later, he portrayed Saul Bloom in Ocean's Eleven, Steven Soderbergh's remake of 1960's Ocean's 11, and later reprised the role in Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). From 2004 to 2005, Reiner voiced Sarmoti in Father of the Pride.

Reiner is the author of several books, including his 2004 memoir My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir and novels, such as his 2006 novel NNNNN: A Novel. In American Film, he expressed his philosophy on writing comedy: "You have to imagine yourself as not somebody very special, but somebody very ordinary. If you imagine yourself as somebody really normal and if it makes you laugh, it's going to make everybody laugh. If you think of yourself as something very special, you'll end up a pedant and a bore. If you start thinking about what's funny, you won't be funny, actually. It's like walking. How do you walk? If you start thinking about it, you'll trip."

In May 2009, he guest-starred as a clinic patient on the season finale of House. Reiner also voiced Santa in Merry Madagascar and reprised his role in the Penguins of Madagascar episode "The All Nighter Before Christmas." In December 2009, he guest-starred as a television producer Marty Pepper on Two and a Half Men. In June 2010, Reiner guest starred in Hot in Cleveland as Elka Ostrovsky's date and reprised the role in July. He also made appearances in The Cleveland Show as Murray and wrote the story for the episode "Your Show of Shows", named after the program that started his career. In October 2013 and January 2014, Reiner reprised his role on Two and a Half Men.

In 2012, Reiner appeared as a guest on Jerry Seinfeld's show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. They talked at a dinner about his comedy career and Reiner invited Jerry to come and have dinner with Mel Brooks and himself. According to Reiner, every night, Brooks heads to Reiner's house to eat, watch Jeopardy (he tapes it) and watch movies. The one rule for movies: It has to be one where "somebody says, 'Secure the perimeter!' or 'Get some rest.'" Brooks "falls asleep with his mouth open" every time.[17]

Personal life

On December 24, 1943, Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married for 64 years until her death in 2008. At the time of the marriage, Reiner was 21 and she was 29. Estelle delivered the line "I'll have what she's having" in the deli scene of their son Rob's 1989 film When Harry Met Sally....[2] She died on October 25, 2008, at age 94.[18]

He is the father of Rob Reiner (b. 1947), poet, playwright, and author Annie Reiner (b. 1949), and painter,[19] actor, and director Lucas Reiner (b. 1960).[2] Reiner has six grandchildren[20] (four from Rob and two from Lucas) and five great-grandchildren.

Reiner has described himself as a Jewish atheist.[7] He has said, "I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us."[21][22] He also told Moment journalist Lynda Gorov that he developed an atheistic viewpoint as the Holocaust progressed.[23] The Dick Van Dyke episode 'Life and Love of Joe Coogan' demonstrated Carl Reiner's wide range of ability, not only as a great comedy writer but in his talent with drama and spirituality despite his protestation to the contrary. He had previously stated that he had become an atheist as the Holocaust progressed early in his life. Carl Reiner, listed as that episode's only writer, provides a sonnet read by two of the principal characters, also created by Reiner, demonstrating  incredible passion regarding a conception of a higher power, humanity and their relationship and completely departed from the comedy expected of the characters; even when previously these same characters were confronted with somber moments in other episodes. His ability with broader and deeper writing in this and other episodes provided poignant and touching moments in the otherwise constant lighthearted intent of the show.

Reiner is a lifelong Democrat. He endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination during the 2016 United States presidential election.[24] Reiner resides in Beverly Hills, California.[25] At 98, he is one of the oldest celebrities active on Twitter.[26]




Year Title Role Notes
1959 Happy Anniversary Bud
1959 The Gazebo Harlow Edison
1961 Gidget Goes Hawaiian Russ Lawrence
1963 The Thrill of It All German Officer / Cad / Cowboy
1963 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Tower Controller at Rancho Conejo
1965 John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! Cameo Appearance uncredited
1965 The Art of Love Rodin
1966 Alice of Wonderland in Paris Anatole (voice)
1966 Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title Bald Bookstore Customer uncredited
1966 The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming Walt Whittaker
1967 A Guide for the Married Man Technical Adviser (Rance G.)
1969 The Comic Al Schilling
1969 Generation Stan Herman
1973 Ten from Your Show of Shows
1977 Oh, God! Dinah's Guest
1978 The End Dr. James Maneet
1979 The Jerk Carl Reiner The Celebrity
1981 The History of the World, Part 1 voice of God speaking to moses uncredited
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Field Marshall VonKluck
1987 In the Mood Alan Brady, Newsreel Narrator (voice) uncredited
1987 Summer School Mr. Dearadorian
1990 The Spirit of '76 Dr. Von Mobil
1993 Fatal Instinct Judge Ben Arugula
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Mickey
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle P. G. Biggershot
2001 Ocean's Eleven Saul Bloom
2001 The Majestic Studio Executive (voice)
2004 Ocean's Twelve Saul Bloom
2007 Ocean's Thirteen Saul Bloom
2018 Duck Duck Goose Larry (voice)
2019 Toy Story 4 Carl Reineroceros (voice) [27]


Year Title Notes
1967 Enter Laughing
1969 The Comic
1970 Where's Poppa?
1977 Oh, God!
1978 The One and Only
1979 The Jerk
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
1983 The Man with Two Brains
1984 All of Me
1985 Summer Rental
1987 Summer School
1989 Bert Rigby, You're a Fool
1990 Sibling Rivalry
1993 Fatal Instinct
1997 That Old Feeling


Year Title Notes
1963 The Thrill of It All
1965 The Art of Love
1967 Enter Laughing with Joseph Stein
1969 The Comic with Aaron Ruben
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid with Steve Martin and George Gipe
1983 The Man with Two Brains with Steve Martin and George Gipe
1989 Bert Rigby, You're a Fool



Year Title Role Notes
1950–1954 Your Show of Shows Himself - Regular Performer Variety Series
1954–1957 Caesar's Hour Various Variety Series
1958 The Sid Caesar Show Woody Woodward Variety Series
1961–1966 The Dick Van Dyke Show Alan Brady 32 episodes
1970–1972 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Guest Performer 3 episodes
1971 Night Gallery Professor Peabody Segment: Professor Peabody
1974 The Carol Burnett Show Various characters Episode: 7.17
1975 The 2000 Year Old Man Interviewer (voice) TV Special
1976 Good Heavens Mr. Angel 13 episodes
1993 Frasier Roger (voice) Episode: Selling Out
1995 Mad About You Alan Brady Episode: The Alan Brady Show
1996 The Right to Remain Silent' Norman Friedler TV Movie
1997–2000 King of the Hill Garry Kasner 2 episodes
1997 The Larry Sanders Show Carl Reiner episode: The Roast
1998 Disney's Hercules: The Animated Series Prometheus (voice) episode: Hercules and the Prometheus Affair
2000 Globehunters: An Around the World in 80 Days Adventure Maz (voice) TV Movie
2002–2005 The Bernie Mac Show Himself / Neighbor 3 episodes
2002 Crossing Jordan Harry Macy Episode: For Harry, with Love & Squalor
2002 Ally McBeal Johnson Buck Episode: Bygones
2002–2003 Life with Bonnie Mr. Portinbody 3 episodes
2004–2005 Father of the Pride Sarmoti (voice) 14 episodes
2005 Boston Legal Milton Bombay Episode: Let Sales Ring
2009 House Eugene Schwartz Episode: Both Sides Now
2009–2014 Two and a Half Men Marty Pepper 4 episodes
2009 Merry Madagascar Santa (voice) short
2010 The Penguins of Madagascar Santa Claus (voice) Episode: The All Nighter Before Christmas
2010–2014 Hot in Cleveland Max 8 episodes
2010–2011 The Cleveland Show Murray (voice) 4 episodes
2011–2015 American Dad Irv/Mailbox #1 (voice) 2 episodes
2012 Parks and Recreation Ned Jones Episode: Campaign Shake-Up
2012 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Himself Episode: I Want Sandwiches, I Want Chicken
2014 Bob's Burgers Henry Episode: Father of the Bob
2016 Family Guy Old Man/Fantasy Baseball Coach (voice) 2 episodes
2016 Justice League: Action The Wizard (voice) Episode: Shazam Slam Part 1
2017 If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast Himself Documentary
2018 Duck Duck Goose Larry (voice) Animated Feature
2018 Angie Tribeca Glenn-Allen Mixon Episode: Behind the Scandalabra
2019 Forky Asks A Question Carl Reineroceros (voice) Episode: What is Love


Year Title Notes
1967 Good Morning World 4 episodes
1971–1974 The New Dick Van Dyke Show 10 episodes
1973 A Touch of Grace episode: A Touch of Grace
1976 Good Heavens 7 episodes


Year Title Notes
1954–1957 Caesar's Hour 3 episodes
1959–1960 The Dinah Shore Chevy Show 11 episodes
1961–1966 The Dick Van Dyke Show 158 episodes; also creator
1962 The Comedy Spot 1 episode; also creator
1971–1974 The New Dick Van Dyke Show 72 episodes; also creator
1973 Lotsa Luck 22 episodes; also creator
2004 The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited Creator
2010–2011 The Cleveland Show Episode: Your Show of Shows


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1948 Inside U.S.A. Performer - Various Characters Majestic Theatre [28]
1950 Alive and Kicking Performer - Various Characters Winter Garden Theatre [29]
1967 Something Different Playwright, Director Cort Theatre [30]
1972 Tough to Get Help Director Royale Theatre [31]
1976 So Long, 174th Street Original Source Material by Harkness Theatre [32]
1980 The Roast Director Winter Garden Theatre [33]

Awards and nominations

Reiner's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6421 Hollywood Blvd
Reiner's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6421 Hollywood Blvd

Over Reiner's vast career from film, and television has earned numerous awards. From his standup comedy albums with Mel Brooks, to writing on Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour, and The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner has earned 1 Grammy Award, and 11 Primetime Emmy Awards. He also received

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1954 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor Your Show of Shows Nominated [34]
1956 Caesar's Hour Nominated
1957 Won
1958 Won
1962 Writing for a Comedy Series The Dick Van Dyke Show Won
1963 Won
1964 Won
1965 Outstanding Achievements in Writing Won
1966 Outstanding Comedy Series Won
Special Individual Achievement Linus! The Lion Hearted Nominated
1967 Outstanding Writing - Variety Series The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner Special Won
1995 Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Mad About You Won
2000 Beggars and Choosers Nominated
2004 Outstanding Special Class Program The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited Nominated
2018 Outstanding Narrator If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast Nominated
1960 Grammy Awards Best Comedy Album 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks Nominated [35]
1961 2001 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks Nominated
1963 Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks at the Cannes Film Festival Nominated
1996 Best Spoken Word Album for Children The Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain) Nominated
1998 Best Comedy Album The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 Won
1999 How Paul Robeson Saved My Life
And Other Mostly Happy Stories
2001 Best Spoken Word Album Letters From The Earth -
Uncensored Writings By Mark Twain
2003 Best Spoken Word Album for Children Tell Me A Scary Story Nominated




  • Enter Laughing (1958)
  • 2000 Years With: Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks (with Mel Brooks, 1960)
  • All Kinds of Love (1993)
  • Continue Laughing (1995)
  • How Paul Robeson Saved My Life (and Other Mostly Happy Stories) (1999)
  • The 2000 Year-Old Man in the Year 2000: The Book (1999)
  • My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir (2003)
  • NNNNN: A Novel (2006)
  • Tell Me Another Scary Story... But Not Too Scary! (with James Bennett) (2009)
  • Just Desserts: A Novellelah (2009)
  • Tell Me a Silly Story (with James Bennett) (2010)
  • I Remember Me (2012) [biography]
  • I Just Remembered (2014) [biography]
  • What I Forgot To Remember (2015) [biography]
  • Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born (2015)
  • Carl Reiner, Now You're Ninety-Four: A Graphic Diary (2016) [biography]
  • You Say God Bless You for Sneezing and Farting! (2017: March 20, 2017) [illustrated children's book][38]
  • Too Busy to Die (announced, 2017) [biography][39]


  1. ^ Carl Reiner at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
  2. ^ a b c St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, (2000)
  3. ^ Van Dyke, Dick (2012), My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir, Three Rivers Press
  4. ^ Waldron, Vince (1994). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book, Hyperion
  5. ^ "Awards Search - Television Academy". August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  6. ^ "Carl Reiner Biography (1922-)".
  7. ^ a b Tom, Tugend (June 15, 2008). "Reiners honored by Israeli film fest". The Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on September 24, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  8. ^ "Ed McMahon heads for Times Square". April 25, 2001. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  9. ^ Susan King, Los Angeles Times, Feb 27, (2001) pg. F.5
  10. ^ Lynda Gorov (2013) Funnyman Carl Reiner Moment Magazine
  11. ^ Reiner, Carl (October 26, 2011). "Carl Reiner Collection (AFC/2001/001/76156), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress" (Interview). Interviewed by Bernie Cook. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  12. ^ video: "The 2000 Year Old Man - Created and Performed by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner"
  13. ^ "41st Annual Grammy Awards winners". National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  14. ^ a b c Nachman, Gerald. Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Knopf Doubleday (2003) p. 474
  15. ^ iCandy TV (April 24, 2015). "2000 Year Old Man Mel Brooks Carl Reiner Hollywood Palace 1966" – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Carl Reiner, My Anecdotal Life (New York: St. Martin's, 2003).
  17. ^
  18. ^ Times, Los Angeles. "Estelle Reiner dies at 94; singer-actress had cameo in son's film 'When Harry Met Sally'".
  19. ^ "Art Reviews"; David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, Oct 12, (1995) p. 4.
  20. ^ Carl Reiner grandchildren
  21. ^ King, Susan (October 21, 2009). "Carl Reiner's big break". LA Times. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
  22. ^ Waldron, Vince (1994). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. New York: Applause. p. 23. ISBN 1-55783-453-9.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Carl Reiner on Twitter". Twitter.
  25. ^ 'Musicals, Concerts, Children's Shows, and More Highlight Annenberg's 2014-2015 Season', The Beverly Hills Courier, September 12, 2014, p. 10 [1]
  26. ^ "carl reiner (@carlreiner) - Twitter".
  27. ^ "Toy Story 4 Includes Cameos From Betty White, Mel Brooks, and Other Comedy Icons". Movies. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Carl Reiner - Emmy Awards, Nominations and Wins". Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  35. ^ "Carl Reiner - Artist". Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  36. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
  37. ^
  38. ^ "carl reiner on Twitter".
  39. ^ Reiner, Carl (April 12, 2016). "Carl Reiner announces his new book "Too Busy To Die"". Twitter. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

Further reading

  • Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, (2007).

External links

This page was last edited on 28 May 2020, at 06:52
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